Preptober, Abbreviated

The year got away from me, as it did with many of us, and so I found myself on the 15th wondering when it had become October.  The weather in the area was unseasonably warm, so I just kind of kept the summer going in my head, only to be blindsided by Autumn mid-month.  It wasn’t so much the seasonal change that bothered me, it was the fact that I wasn’t focused as I should have be

I forgot about Preptober.

Preptober is where you get ready for NaNoWriMo.  If you think I sound like a crazy person, read the next section.  If you know what I’m talking about, skip ahead one.

NaNoWriMo (NaNo) stands for National Novel Writing Month, which is in November.  The goal, though the website, is to pen 50k words in a month, leaving you a “winner” with a little bookie-book at the end of it.  It’s fun and pushes you to write.  “Preptober” is the month of October, when you prepare for NaNo.

Anyway, I did it in 2019 and ended up a winner, with a nice little novella.  Then in 2020 the world stopped, so I figured no problem!  I went hard in planning during October and was raring to go on the 1st of the month.  Alas, on the 8th I broke my finger, and dashed all dreams of getting a book out of it.  This year, I shall try again.

But I haven’t touched my outlines.

I’m so behind.  I have a workbook that helps me prepare and I have two weeks of exercises to look over.  On the up side, it’s the same project I worked on last year so much of it is already done, but I need to familiarize myself with everything again.  I have to get my head back in the book, so to speak.

I suppose the key to it all is to not stress myself out.  For instance, just thinking to myself that I already have so much more prepared for this novel than I did for the last when I started it makes me feel at ease.  I have a game plan; a script to work from.  It will make everything that much easier. 

So, for the next two weeks, I will be reacquainting myself with my book, and bonding with my characters, and dreaming of my settings.  Then, on Monday, November 1st, I will tap tap tap away on my keyboard, and hope I don’t smash my finger in a folding chair again.

Happy Preptober.

Preptober 2020

Well, it is October, so I am knee-deep in Preptober.

What’s Preptober, you ask?

Well, first, I have to tell you about NaNoWriMo. 

NaNo, as I will call it henceforth, is short for National Novel Writing Month, which is every November.  There is a website, where you sign up and log your daily word count throughout the month.  The goal is to write at least 50,000 words.  It is a daunting task.  I won by a nose last year, pulling in about 51.000 words. My first book’s first draft was complete.  It is short, likely going to be a novella or a serial or something, but it’s done and out of me and I was prouder of myself than I have ever been.

Now, when I wrote that guy, I had massive amounts of prep done already.  Outlines, character descriptions, dialogue snippets, and about four already written chapters.  I didn’t need to do a whole lot of prep, because I had already done it years earlier when I got the idea for the book.  It was just a matter of sitting down to write it.

This year, though, things are a little different.  I have an outline and character descriptions and a very rough first chapter, and only because I have been working on these things since Oct. 1.  See, the month beforehand is called Preptober, and it’s when we get ready for NaNo.  I have a workbook I am using, and it has been very helpful for streamlining my thought processes.  Everyday I complete a task from the book, then I work it into my notes or story.  It has really been useful. 

Last year, I wrote a little story that had lived in me for a couple of years, ever since Robin Williams passed away, actually.  That was the day I started it.  It marinated in my head for a while before falling out my fingertips.  This story is similar, but it has been soaking in my brainwaves for a much longer period of time.

See, I started writing a book about 18 years ago or so, when Bush was president and I thought the world was on fire (hindsight is 20/20.)  It was about a group of freedom fighters who topple a dictator who has taken over the USA and implemented many unjust laws to suit his own desires.  Then Obama got elected, and some of my fire died out, so I abandoned it for a while.  Then 45 got elected, and I reread it, realized I am either a plagiarizer or a fortune-teller, and scrapped the whole thing.

But those characters.  I spent so much time on those characters, and I loved them.  I love them more than Frankie, my lead from last year’s novel.  They have been living in my head for so long, just waiting to be put into prose.  Now is the time.

I scrapped the whole plot, of course.  I built a new one, and inserted my lovely characters into it.  And it’s already better than it was before…they are adapting to their surroundings quite nicely.

So, today’s Preptober assignment is about inciting action. When I do these exercises, I feel like I am back in Ms. Maloney’s 12th grade creative writing class.  Part of me is like “Oh, this is pointless, writing out these details that are already in my brain.”  The other part of me remembers that class, and the four-inch thick portfolio I left it with, and how each of those stories had a worksheet or an essay or something to help me understand the aspects of storytelling better.  And they worked, so I am leaning on these assignments the same way I did my English homework.

Anyway, we are almost halfway though the month, so NaNo is fast approaching.  As I did last year, I will be updating my blog on Thursday’s in November with my progress reports on the whole experience.  I have very high hopes this time around, because I think that A. my novel will be significantly longer…we’re talking full-length book.  And B. I think it is a marketable concept.  I really believe it will get published.  I really believe it will sell. 

Just gotta get it outta my fingertips.

Preptober

I decided to do a thing, and that thing is called NaNoWriMo, which is short for National Novel Writing Month, which is in November.  This is a big deal for me because, if you were unaware, I have had a novel sitting inside me for a few years that I just haven’t been able to get out, and I am hoping this is the push I need. 

Everyday you go to the site and put in your word count, with the goal of reaching 50,000 words by the end of November.  You cannot start writing until November 1st.  Most people spend the month of October preparing (preptober,) and that is where I am right now.  I have an outline, I have character notes, I have idea lists, I have research topics, I have dialogue snippets…I am over prepared, and yet I feel lost at sea.  I have been plotting this in my head for FIVE YEARS.  I remember the day it came to me.  Robin Williams had just committed suicide and I was heartbroken.  From that grief for a person I did not even know, a seed for a story was planted, and it has grown into a wild underbrush that I find I must tame into landscaped masterpiece. 

I have been looking for all the preptober worksheets and tips I can find.  I have asked my Twitter friends for their input.  I have even delved into building a world for my character that is outside the one I reside in, which is far out of my comfort zone but is allowing me to express myself creatively.  I am doing all the right things. 

I am terrified.

Of what, you ask?  Of writing 1667 words a day, that’s what.  That’s my weekly blog output.  How can I do that much each day and call it good?  But it doesn’t have to be good, I remind myself.  It just has to be words on paper.  I can make it good later.  My fear, however, is that I am too direct.  I do not expound on slight details and I am not verbose with my descriptions.  I am straightforward, and this lowers my word count, and makes me stress about how much I am putting out there.  I have been adding to my idea list regularly so that I always have something to write, even if I have to jump around a little.  Still, it scares me, making me feel like I am not up to the task. 

I think about the deadlines of my youth, when I would scramble to the computer lab after lunch to finish some term paper or essay, and type them off like my fingers were on fire, always on topic, always an accurate word count, always a good grade.  Those were my way of succeeding-pulling off essays on topics I had long thought of but only sat down to write in the 11th hour.  November will be my novel’s 11th hour.

Due to my current lack of employment I have plenty of time during the week to work but I am concerned about the weekends, especially those I spend with my kiddos.  I told K that I would have to write for at least two hours each day, and she vowed to guard my office door so that I would be undisturbed.  I almost cried at this little outpour of support from the youngest of them, and Hubs smiled at me and told me I could do it.  They all tell me I can do it.  My team is 100% behind me and that gives me hope.

Yet, self-doubt is strong when it comes to my writing, and the little voices in my head that tell me I’m not good enough come calling with no invitation.  Sane Brigid, the side of my brain that rules us most of the time, tells me that this other Brigid is a loony toon and she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.  Sane Brigid shouts her down every time, but that doesn’t mean Crazy Brigid isn’t still there, whispering at night when the words just won’t come. 

I try my best to keep my head up and stay focused on the tasks at hand but sometimes that becomes difficult.  Sometimes I just want to give up and walk away.  I am doing NaNoWriMo so that I can hold myself accountable when that happens, and not give up on my project.  I believe in my story, and I want it told.  I will work my ass off over the next month to make that happen.

So, friend and family and reader, I may be talking about NaNo a lot over the next month.  I may be a little scatterbrained.  I may not get a blog out.  I may not get anything out other than the thing I am forcing myself out of me, this 50,000-word behemoth that I have been carrying around for so long.  Hopefully though, December 1st will roll around and I will be able to say that I did it, that I finally competed the first draft of my first novel, and I will be satisfied.